Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back to Blogging

It's been a busy month, and blogging has been low priority. So I'm hoping to get back in the swing with a few short posts. This one struck me just a few days ago:

The Leiter Report (always a source of ideas) has been previewing the results of the latest Gourmet report. Last week, it reported the rankings of departments in the history of philosophy. The link is here.

According to the Leiter report, "History of Philosophy" refers to the following:

Ancient Philosophy; Medieval Philosophy; Early Modern Philosophy: 17th Century; Early Modern Philosophy: 18th Century (excluding Kant); Kant and German Idealism; 19th-Century Continental Philosophy After Hegel; History of Analytic Philosophy (including Wittgenstein); 20th-Century Continental Philosophy.
I was sorry to see that "American Philosophy" appeared nowhere on that list. It's a special shame since some of the departments listed do have strengths in American Philosophy (Toronto, e.g., but others, too).

It's a shame on a number of levels: first, that we don't appreciate our own philosophical heritage; second, because American Philosophy isn't included in the rankings, there's no incentive for departments to emphasize it in hope of moving up a notch or two. In short, there's no penalty for completely ignoring American Philosophy -- when it actually has a lot to offer in contemporary philosophical debates.


Blogger Joe said...

It is undeniable that many areas of philosophy are either omitted by Leiter's Philosophical Gourmet report or the data the report provides is "skewed." For instance, we might ask: why trust the Philosophical Gourmet's report of programs in continental philosophy if all the analysts are trained in analytic philosophy?

But one might argue on behalf of the Phil. Gourmet report that it is paying adequate attention to American philosophy by reporting the best programs in the United States. Profs and students in the U.S. are engaging in "American" philosophy, after all. So, maybe the Phil. Gourmet report isn't ignoring American philosophy.

I think, however, your complaint has merit because you're referring a slowly emerging historical body of work, e.g., the works of Edwards, James, and (dare I say) Quine or Putnam.

2:45 PM  
Blogger John Capps said...

Joe, I think that's right. Another one of my thoughts was this: several of the top-ranked departments do have someone who works in American philosophy. I don't know if someone would be admitted to these departments to do a dissertation in American philosophy, and I don't know if one would be allowed to do a dissertation in American philosophy at one of these departments, but at least the expertise is there. (Or was there - I don't know if replacing senior specialists in Am. Philosophy is a priority for these departments.)

And if the expertise is there, why not reflect that in the rankings?

E.g.: Bruce Wilshire at Rutgers, Nicholas Rescher and Richard Gale at Pitt, etc.

10:03 PM  

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